Cassini Spacecraft Witnesses Saturn's Blues

Feb 09, 2005
Saturn's Blues (1)

Colorful new images from the Cassini spacecraft show that Saturn's northern hemisphere has a case of the blues. In the first image, the icy moon Mimas is set against a dazzling and dramatic portrait of Saturn's azure northern hemisphere and the shadows of its rings. A second image shows Saturn's northern polar region is a dim blue.

The blue color of Saturn's northern latitudes may to be linked to the apparently cloud-free nature of the upper atmosphere there. A precise understanding of the phenomenon may come from further study by Cassini imaging scientists.

In the first of these colorful views, Mimas moves in its orbit against the blue backdrop of Saturn's atmosphere, which is draped by sweeping shadows cast by the rings. A few large craters are visible on Mimas, giving the icy moon a dimpled appearance.

Saturn's Blues (2)

The second view shows Saturn's northern polar region, where shadows cast by the rings surrounding the pole appear as dark bands. The ring shadows at higher latitudes correspond to locations on the ring plane that are farther from the planet - in other words, the northernmost ring shadow in this view is cast by the outer edge of Saturn's A ring. Spots of bright clouds also are visible throughout the region.

The view of Saturn and Mimas was taken by the Cassini spacecraft's narrow angle camera on Jan. 18, 2005, at a distance of approximately 1.4 million kilometers (870,000 miles) from Saturn. The view of Saturn's northern polar region was taken with Cassini's wide angle camera on Dec. 14, 2004, at a distance of 719,200 kilometers (446,900 miles) from Saturn.

Source: NASA

Explore further: NASA asteroid defense program falls short: audit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Image: Saturn's shadows

Jul 01, 2014

It may seem odd to think of planets casting shadows out in the inky blackness of space, but it is a common phenomenon. Earth's shadow obscures the Moon during a lunar eclipse, and Jupiter's moons cast small ...

Ice cloud heralds fall at Titan's south pole

Apr 11, 2013

(Phys.org) —An ice cloud taking shape over Titan's south pole is the latest sign that the change of seasons is setting off a cascade of radical changes in the atmosphere of Saturn's largest moon. Made from ...

Saturn's north polar hexagon

Feb 26, 2013

(Phys.org)—Saturn's north polar hexagon basks in the Sun's light now that spring has come to the northern hemisphere. Many smaller storms dot the north polar region and Saturn's signature rings, which appear ...

In the shadows of Saturn's rings

Jun 20, 2012

(Phys.org) -- Titan appears to be strung like a bead on Saturn’s rings, which cast shadows onto the southern hemisphere of the gas giant in this beautiful image from Cassini.   Faint but exquisi ...

STAR TRAK for December

Dec 01, 2011

Venus will be at its dazzling brightest as December begins, appearing in the southwestern sky after sunset. This beautiful "evening star" will set two hours after the sun on Dec. 1 and an hour later at month's end.

Image: Saturn's Northern storm

Nov 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- This false-color mosaic from NASA's Cassini spacecraft shows the tail of Saturn's huge northern storm. In mid-September 2004, the Cassini spacecraft chronicled a similar, but smaller, storm ...

Recommended for you

User comments : 0